Birthday Greetings to JHD

Dear Joey,

Happy Birthday! I wish you health and every kind of good fortune.

Thank you so much for inviting us to share memories from age 25! OMG, that was 40 years ago! We’re not just talking pre-internet, we’re talking pre-microwave.

Age 25 was the year I (unexpectedly) stopped moving around. In the previous seven years, I had lived in three states, attended two universities, occupied two dorms, three apartments and three houses, and spent eight months in Europe (another apartment, another dorm, another house and many cheap hotels).

So I did NOT expect, when I moved to New Jersey, that I would stay. I was offered a job with a time limit of five years. But here I am! No regrets. I live in “the other New Jersey”, aka South Jersey or the Pine Barrens. I’m out in the country, surrounded by blueberry and Christmas tree farms, and wonderful farm stands brimming with fresh fruits and veggies and flowers.

Age 25 was the year of my second career change. At 23, I had abandoned chemistry to work in environmental regulation. Two years later, I moved to New Jersey to teach at what was then Stockton State College. Stockton was new (founded in 1970), small and willing to overlook the fact that my only teaching experience had been running Freshman chemistry laboratory sections.

I was part of Stockton’s last “expansion class” of faculty, hired into a new teaching line, so I could make up my classes as I went along. I taught in an Environmental Studies program, one of the country’s first, among academics from fields like ecology, hydrology, geography, geology and forestry. I was the “dirty side” environmentalist, teaching about pollution of the air and water, and about solid and hazardous waste management.

In New Jersey, I met most of the people who have become lifelong friends and companions, including my husband. I met Quakers and attended my first unprogrammed worship, joining that denomination years later.

Can I offer you any advice from my forty-years-older perspective? Nope! Forty years is two generations. You are growing up in a different world, facing different challenges and equipped with different training and tools.

I wish you joy and love and adventure and safety! Take care, and please keep in touch!

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